Can I Get Car Insurance after a DUI in Alabama?
The short answer is yes, you can. There are many things to take into consideration, however. There’s not much that’s more troublesome than seeing the red and blue flashing lights of a police car in your rearview mirror. That’s especially true when you’ve had too much to drink and made a decision to get behind the wheel. The legal definition of too much might very well not be as much consumption as you’d expect.
That’s why it might be so shocking to learn that you’ve broken the law in Alabama. You’ve been charged and convicted for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offense. The ramifications will probably cause a lot of worry. The good news is that there’s a clear – although difficult – path out of your predicament. Finding your way through getting car insurance is one of the things you’ll have to tackle as a result of a DUI.
You’ll most likely need to file an SR-22 certificate to get back behind the wheel legally as soon as possible.
First, How Do We Define a DUI in Alabama?
The first step to knowing how to get out of trouble from a DUI is to know how you stepped into that bear trap in the first place. In Alabama, a driver blowing a 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC) reading on a breathalyzer can get a timeout in a jail cell and end up with a costly conviction for a DUI.
But what does that mean? How much alcohol consumption will get you to the point where the state’s legal system says that you pose a risk behind the wheel and must at least temporarily lose your license?
Well… that’s hard to say. A 0.08 reading might only take a couple of drinks if you pound them down fast enough and then immediately take to the open road. Or four or five if you’re a larger-bodied male who spaces those drinks out with dinner. A smaller female may reach the legal amount with a couple of glasses of wine.
You’ll get your problematic buzz faster if you know a bartender who has a generous pour. And what constitutes a “drink” anyway? Experts have conflicting advice but to be on the safe side, you can equate one shot of liquor with one bottle of beer or one glass of wine.
Body size, gender, rate of consumption, whether you’re drinking on a full or empty stomach, and the type and size of drink you consume…all of these factors and more can influence your BAC.
If you think that makes your barhopping risky, it gets even more challenging if you’re driving a commercial vehicle. A BAC of just 0.04 — half as much as off-the-job drivers — will get you in legal trouble. So obviously, your dinner breaks had better not include even a single beer if you’re on the clock, so to speak.
To try to hold off a 0.08 BAC result, one rule of thumb is not to consume more than one drink an hour. Slow down and drink water in between rounds. And take an honest appraisal of how you feel. If you’re “feeling” your drink, you might not be safe behind the wheel, no matter how few you had or how slowly you poured those drinks into you. And if you’re literally a lightweight, or an inexperienced drinker, even the one-an-hour rule might be too much.
Also, remember that it will take your system about five hours to fully rid your body of all of the alcohol that makes up your 0.08 BAC. So don’t assume that the time you spend consuming a cup or two of coffee after your partying will leave you safe to drive home. (Incidentally, it’s a myth that caffeine has some magical sobering ability. Several cups will just make you a wide-awake drunk.)
What Am I Up Against if I Get an Alabama DUI?
You should be forewarned, a DUI in Alabama comes with some pretty stiff penalties. Consider what a first offender is up against:
- At least a 90-day suspension of your driver’s license
- A fine of at least $600 and as much as $2,000
- A $100 Driver Trust Find fine
- Mandatory DUI school sign-up and attendance
- The possibility of up to as much as one year in prison
- Depending on the circumstances, the possibility of an ignition interlock device (which, by the way, you have to pay for)
Keep in mind, that’s just the possible set of penalties for a first offense with no aggravating circumstances. The penalty load escalates dramatically for each subsequent conviction over a stated period of several years. And that doesn’t even count the cost of hiring a lawyer, potentially losing your job or missing pay periods, or the additional penalties if the DUI results in injury or death to others.
Okay, So I Got a DUI in Alabama. Now What?
Your license will be suspended for a period of time or even revoked as a result of your DUI conviction, depending on whether or not this is your first DUI. That’s unavoidable. Additional fines and possible jail time will go into effect if you are caught driving while your license is suspended.
For drivers with jobs and family responsibilities, the license suspension or revocation might hurt most of all.
How do they stay employed? Get the kids to school and back? Buy groceries and run errands?
The state won’t give you your driver’s license back until the suspension period has ended and you’ve obtained and filed a legal document known as an SR-22 certificate. This is proof that you have at least minimal liability insurance.
Most drivers with a DUI in Alabama look for minimal liability coverage because it’s the cheapest form of car insurance available. This is important because the cost of your auto insurance can nearly double after a DUI. At the very least, it will increase considerably. That’s because no matter how careful a driver you’ve been over time, insurance underwriters now consider you to be a high-risk driver.
As a result of the skyrocketing cost for coverage, motorists with a DUI on their records need to shop very carefully to get behind the wheel again. Liability insurance is cheaper because it doesn’t pay any of your costs if you get into an auto accident that’s your fault. But it will pay for injuries and collision costs sustained by the other driver – and it is required.
In other words, you’ll still be financially responsible for repairing or replacing your own vehicle if you only have liability insurance and get into a collision that’s your fault. You’ll also be on your own if your car is lost or damaged through theft, vandalism, fire, or any other non-collision incident. But this minimal form of coverage will at least enable you to drive legally, and you can upgrade your coverage in the future.
That’s some of the good news that you’ll read about in the next section—the situation really can get better.
The Good News is That Your Bad News Isn’t Permanent
Even good people and safe, responsible drivers can make big mistakes.
The Alabama legal system and automobile insurers realize that a first offense should not result in a lifetime punishment. That’s why the force of your DUI conviction diminishes over time.
Once your driving privileges are restored, Alabama drivers begin again with a clean slate. While your status as a high-risk driver means that car insurance companies will either charge you higher rates or not cover you at all, even this hardship goes away eventually.
In time, the old conviction won’t hold as much power over underwriters. As long as your driving record stays otherwise clean, you’ll start to get rates that are similar to what drivers without DUI convictions pay.
In the meantime, your independent insurance agent will work hard to help you find the lowest possible rates for your insurance by seeking quotes from multiple insurers. Everyone should be able to get car insurance, even drivers with poor records, including DUIs.
Get Back on the Road!
Even the most responsible people with good jobs and families sometimes do the wrong thing. Your DUI is probably a once-in-a-lifetime offense, yet you still have auto insurance challenges. Fortunately, you don’t have to face those steep obstacles on your own.
You can find an insurance company that will help you jump through the SR-22 certificate hurdles in Alabama. Be sure and shop around for car insurance you can afford after your license is reinstated.
All drivers should be able to get back on the road with coverage they can afford.
Call USAgencies For an SR-22 Insurance Quote and Get Your Driving Life Back on Track
The three-step process for getting SR-22 insurance through USAgencies couldn’t be easier. Just reach out to an agent, and we’ll start the process.
Call USAgencies at (800) 420-3712 or fill out our brief online form to receive a quote. We’d also love to meet you in person. Check out a location near you.